Archives For impulse

‘Sight or sound, pure cinema is a cinema that would like to dispense with words: the cinema, as the etymology already indicates, is essentially the painter, the narrator of mobility, of all mobility, of mobility alone, because it alone is photogenic… But the word constitutes a fixed form, a stable state, a stop, a crystallization of thought, an element of immobility.” Jean Epstein – Cinema Pur? 1946

At the heart of this thought is a contradiction and contradiction is always a useful tool for the theorising of art. The friction between ideas and perceptions allow for new imaginings. Photogenie strives for a shifting image-experience. Time is an essential ingredient. But the shifting is not simply what is shifting on screen. The shifting takes place in the mind of the viewer. The image-experience is relative to the shifting and waining perceptions and imagining of the viewer. The entertainment is not in the narratives themes and subtexts but rather in what the viewer brings to the situation. Therefore narrative is a problematic ingredient for cinema and moving image work. It must be handled with reservation – a last resort to being meaning to an artwork. Bacon’s figures – see Deleuze’s analysis summarised below –  reject narration in order that the physicality and flesh of the world is what is left.

Katie Kirkland provides an insightful unpacking of Coure Fidele and takes aim at Epstein’s own dismissiveness of his formal exploits. Epstein on Coure Fidele:

‘In Couer  Fidele the turns of sleight of hand of the fete foraine have very much unbalanced the way I would wish that the film be understood … If this abstract cinema enchants some, let them buy a kaleidoscope, a toy for a second childhood, in which  a very simple device can give a speed of rotation, regular and variable at will. As for me, I believe that the age of the cinema-kaleidoscope has passed.’

This notion of a ‘kaleidoscopic’ aesthetic however still has relevance in understanding the era and the thinking. The kaleidoscope relates to modernity. To resist and subvert conventional forms is to create a kaleidoscopic affect. To favour sensation over narrative logic or psychological realism is kaleidoscopic. The eruption of mobility, magnification, and plastic deformation in the fete forraine sequence is a victory for sensational affect – a conquering of the spectator as the spectator submits and is moved – and the image acts – force.

What is a kaleidoscope? A relationship of fragments – images – mosaic – objects – as created by a device which itself remains invisible. What matters here is not the properties of images/fragments  themselves but combination and movement. There is also a sense that a kaleidoscope is enjoyable as it somehow connects us with the uncanny / other – worldly. It is no accident that Epstein had such interest in fair grounds, circus’ and carnivals. There is a sense of the spectacle and a sense of an adventurous interaction with modern technology – gadgets, ferris wheels, roller coasters, halls of mirrors etc etc.


“For Epstein, love and aesthetic pleasure are both general sentiments that reside in subconscious memory, periodically erupting through the threshold of consciousness in search of an object.”

Irrational, unreflective, irresistible. Frightening.

As always Epstein is looking for a path of artistic advance for the cinema.


notes from a lecture

February 28, 2018 — Leave a comment

Irit Rogoff

Professor of Visual Cultures – Goldsmiths; University of London


research website

Professor Rogoff proposes that we need to move toward a new understanding of the research term. What is a research term? Rather than setting a question in advance through which research is guided she proposes a state of being as a researcher that is permanent: a state of working and questioning. This is a shift from basing all research knowledge gains on inherited knowledge and toward what she describes as ‘working from conditions’. This is not about focussing on ‘conditions’ themselves, but working ‘from’ conditions. I take this to mean engaging in the totality of your life and existence and allowing your pursuit in research interests to eb and flow into and out of life conditions: a continuum from life to research to life. I feel that there is a connection between my research focus, photogenie, and this sentiment. I describe photogenie as a quest to discover images and moments that resonate (sensation) and offer new insights and knowledge about existence (revelation). It is the ‘quest’ aspect that I think relates to Rogoff.

Interestingly Rogoff proposes this as a response and antithesis to the nihilism and dead ends of identity politics. She places emphasis on emergent (emerging) independent and individual subjectivities. She calls this a ‘re-singularisation’. Personally I can relate to this. As an artist I never seek to align myself with anybody or any collective based on my immutable characteristics – whiteness, maleness, 30 – year old-ness, tattoo-ed-ness,  – nor for that matter do I align with political or social interests. Rogoff asked: ‘how do these subjectivities collect together in a moment?’. I believe this to be the right question. I’ve always found it more interesting to relate to a person or another artist or collaborator, or anyone I might meet on a film set, in terms of that person as a unique and interesting individual. What happens when we talk as two unique and interesting individuals without the forced assumptions (identity based, or politically based) imposed by the terms of the collective in which we are operating? I think that openness and open-mindedness (and mind-full-ness) are more powerful than aligning power to identities.

… from an investigative impulse to the constitution of new realities …

The influence of Thomas Kuhn … 

I liked her comment that artistic research is an alternative entry point into significant problems. Granting ourselves permission is an important tenet of artistic expression. What facet of my being needs to be activated – what aspect of my condition is vying for articulation in  reality?



images from a work in production

title: I Work for the Devil

In these images I am playing around with different colour tones and editing choices. I am building an aesthetic to carry through the rest of production.



Wilhelm Worringer posits a spectrum for the impulse behind art – the extremities of which can be defined as an impulse towards empathy at one end and an impulse towards abstraction at the other.

The fundamental notion at the heart of Worringer’s thesis is that beauty derives from our sense of being able to identify with an object; empathy. This has clear relationships with phenomenology and is a starting point for further research. Worringer is looking to understand the reasons behind how and why a human being is driven or drawn towards a work of art. This will inevitably have to include psychology – the level of the individual – and zeitgeist – the level of the broader culture.

Worringer argues that representational art produces satisfaction from our objectified delight in the self, reflecting a confidence in the world as it is as in Renaissance art. By contrast, the urge to abstraction, as exemplified by Egyptian, Byzantine, primitive, or modern expressionist art, articulates a totally different response to the world: it expresses man s insecurity. Thus in historical periods of anxiety and uncertainty, man seeks to abstract objects from their unpredictable state and transform them into absolute, transcendental forms. Abstraction and Empathy also has a sociological dimension, in that the urge to create fixed, abstract, and geometric forms is a response to the modern experience of industrialization and the sense that individual identity is threatened by a hostile mass society.


Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style